She manages to balance her high-powered corporate job as
Chief Executive for a global investment company,
with a crime-writing career –
dealing with numbers by day and dark, creative writing by night.
A one-time committee member and vice-chairperson of the
Crime Writers’ Association, Elizabeth still is a member of the organisation.
She is married, with a stepdaughter, and divides her time between London,
Germany and France.
Liz: I didn’t have him in mind at all. Andrew Fenwick isn’t based on anyone I know. “Emerged” is a good word to describe his creation. That is exactly what he did. Fenwick is an elusive character, from the first book to the most recent. He is multi-layered and adept at hiding behind protective walls of distance that he erects around himself. As a widowed single father he is intensely protective of his children but at the same time he finds it impossible to compromise on any investigation that he is put in charge of. That places an increasing burden on him, particularly as the children grow older (his daughter Bess is now a teenager and some of her bad behaviour is definitely based on mine!). He remains a private man, even to me. At the end of each book, it is as if he withdraws again and I have to coax him out for the next.
Liz: I wish I could; I envy and admire writers who can do this. I’m just a storyteller pure and simple. Quite often I picture a scene, even the denouement, and write towards this, not even knowing who will live and who will die. So as the book grows, I’m writing as if I were turning the pages of the novel, in order to find out what happens next. When people ask me to comment on how I achieve a sense of suspense, I tell them it’s because I don’t know what is going to happen as I am writing. I think that might increase the tension.
Liz: The middle, always the middle. I normally have the end in mind when I write but then things happen. My characters won’t always do what I want them to and it can be some time before I realise why they were right and my original idea was wrong. That is part of what I find so enjoyable when I’m writing but inevitably by the middle of the book, strands of plot end up in there that need to be cut out. Choices need to be made, some minor characters and scenes dropped. I sense when that need is coming and then keep putting it off, as I find it a difficult thing to do! But the way I write, it is always necessary to bite the bullet eventually in order to drive the momentum of the story.
Liz: That’s a good question but I don’t think I do. Every aspect has its charm: the first tingle of an idea, the excitement as it becomes more tangible, and the sense of progress as chapters flow. Every now and then there are “aha” moments when something I’ve written takes on a greater significance; perhaps those are among the best times.
German. This is one of them. However, Crescendo, familiar to all musicians as an indication to gradually increase the loudness also gives no clue. I haven't yet figured out what is the title for the original version in English.’
Allianz, you were Managing Director at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, served as Head of Distribution for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. And was also a Partner at Coopers & Lybrand. Additionally, you have also worked in the Life & Pensions industry, and more…. I am lost inadmiration. How do you do it?
Liz: That’s kind of you, Lizzie but in fact, I was simply very lucky and then worked hard. I didn’t go to university and my first job out of school was as a shop assistant. I then became a temp in an insurance company. They offered me a permanent position and the chance to study in the evenings for professional exams. Everything else followed. I had always enjoyed English composition at school but after I started work,
Liz: Another great question. It’s been suggested that Nightingale could – and some say should - have her own series but right now there remain too many unresolved issues and opportunities while she and Fenwick share the pages together. I have also had ideas for a couple of stand-alone novels (as opposed to another series) but then Requiem Mass was meant to be a one off so who knows?
Liz: I’m working on book six in the series and it is zinging along at the moment. So I’m hopeful that I won’t be so long in completing this one. It is a book written with a survivor’s perspective, which is new for me and I’m enjoying the challenge.
Fatal Legacy (2000)
Innocent Blood (2008)